Movana Chen officially unveils her new art work ‘Travelling Into Your Bookshelf’ at the grand opening of Charbon Art Space on 19th September.
The event was part of South Island Art Day, an annual program founded in 2013 where galleries and exhibitions open free-for-all in the Aberdeen district for the public to experience different forms of contemporary art as well as interact with local and international artists.
Hong Kong based artist Movana Chen was the headline of Charbon Art Space on the day. With her fusion work of media, fashion, performance, installation and culture, she represents the emerging Asian artists in Hong Kong and there was no doubt she brought along visitors to the otherwise previously unknown gallery.
At 5pm, the artist began sharing her newest project ‘Travelling Into Your Bookshelf’ to the crowd that had gathered inside the new 1700 sq ft multipurpose art space.
The featured touring project began in 2009, where Chen knits cut-off pages of books donated by people she has met in her travels. In its sixth year now, the piece has reached 50m long, a product of her latest trip to Germany.
“Recently I went to Berlin and Hannover in Germany and tried to experience the different culture,” started Chen, pointing to the video display of the creation process filmed in nine cities. “My ‘Travelling Into Your Bookshelf’ project is a way to connect with people’s cultures – when you look close up, you can see the different languages of what I’m knitting.”
“On the street, I knitted and people came over to talk to me, when people invited me, I went to their place…to learn from them through knitting.” She continues to explain further, highlighting the cultural differences between the places of her travels and Hong Kong. “You can see the people there, how they’re enjoying their lives in different ways…and compared to Hong Kong, [which is] a very different lifestyle, very rushed.”
She recalls several specific incidents of her latest trip. “I knitted with Barbara, who I met there, she’s around 72, and other people were around 60, my first time meeting with a group of people who are all… not very old people but very amazing people. They shared many stories about East Berlin and West Berlin, they tried to show me the different parts of Germany so we travelled together…in their cars, we listened to the old cassettes, driving 5 hours from Hannover to Berlin…everyday we ate different things like cheese, eating dinner for 3 to 4 hours to share with different people – whoever we met on the street.”
Gesturing towards a display of a pile of book covers, Chen lists out some of the books knitted into her work: “‘Gone With the Wind’, ‘One Day’, ‘The Neverending Story’…
From Paris a dictionary about Chinese tea from a French lady [who] really liked Chinese culture!” She laughs as she remembers.
She makes sure to mention that her travels were spontaneous, “no schedule, no planning”, and hopes to travel to “more than fifty places”. Her next destinations are Venice and Istanbul, where she has already been invited by a friend.
“So it will be my ongoing project.”
‘Travelling Into Your Bookshelf’ by Movana Chen; Charbon, Unit B, 8/F, Sing Teck Factory, 44 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen; Sep 19-Oct 17